What are Some Alternate Uses for Coffee Grinders?
There are a number of uses for coffee grinders beyond grinding beans for coffee, and in fact some people keep multiple coffee grinders on hand for different purposes. For cooks who work with a wide array of ingredients and prefer to start from scratch with basic ingredients, a coffee grinder can make a great all purpose grinding tool for the kitchen, and it may be cheaper than products designed for specific tasks such as milling flours or grinding spices.
One of the most common alternate uses of the coffee grinder is in the preparation of spices. Spices tend to taste best when they are stored whole and ground if needed, but this can be a pain every time someone needs some spices. A coffee grinder can quickly grind and blend spices whenever they are needed, along with herbs and other inclusions used for flavor, such as ground dried mushrooms in soup. Using a coffee grinder is less time consuming than a mortar and pestle, and it can yield more even results.
In recipes which call for crushed nuts or bread crumbs, a coffee grinder can be used to create a course crumb, or a more finely milled flour. High quality coffee grinders can even create milled nut flours, which can be very convenient, as such flours tend to be expensive. Ambitious cooks can also grind seeds and grains for various flours, or use a coffee grinder to crack seeds and grains for use as garnishes or textural additions in food.
If a baker needs some powdered sugar in a hurry, a coffee grinder can be used to mill sugar to a finer texture, and coffee grinders can also be used to break chocolate into coarse crumbs for garnishing and baking projects, or to pulp dried fruit for filled desserts. Some people also use coffee grinders for tasks like milling soaked rice for the purpose of making rice noodles, or quickly blending dried and powdered spices while bruising them so that they release more flavor and aroma.
One thing to be careful about when using a coffee grinder for multiple purposes is the transfer of flavors. It is difficult to thoroughly wash a coffee grinder, and some flavors do not mix well. For example, if a coffee grinder is used to grind pungent spices and then coffee, the coffee will taste like those spices. Likewise, a coffee grinder used with nuts will not be safe for use on foods which will be consumed by someone who has nut allergies.
I have a Braun coffee grinder that always sits out on my kitchen counter. There is nothing quite like a fresh cup of coffee in the morning.
This grinder will also grind up spices, although I mostly use it for coffee. When I want to grind something different than coffee, such as some cloves, I will put some dry white rice in the grinder.
I grind the rice and wipe it out to help get rid of any coffee flavor that still may be lingering. I don't mind my coffee with a little hint of spice in it, but think my baked goods might taste funny with a coffee flavor.
I like to grind grain for use in making my own bread, but my coffee bean grinder is too small for this. If I need several cups of flour, this would take me too long and make too much of a mess.
One thing I love to use my coffee grinder for is to grind up flax seed. In order to use flax seed, it needs to be ground in to a flour consistency and my small coffee grinder works perfectly for this.
I will grind small batches at a time, and keep the unused portion in a container in the refrigerator.
Since the flax seed doesn't leave much of an odor, I don't need to worry about my coffee tasting or smelling like flax.
I always rinse it out well whenever I am done using it. It has plenty of time to dry out between uses, so I haven't noticed any transfer of flavors.
@ddljohn-- I received a really nice coffee grinder as a wedding gift. It's not just a coffee grinder, it's a coffee, nut and spice grinder all in one. It comes with different containers that can be changed when I want to grind different things so that the aromas and flavors don't mix.
I grind fresh coffee with it every week. I've also used it to grind nuts for dessert and whole black peppers. It really works great for all of them even though they have different sizes and textures. It gives me the option to pick how thinly I want it ground and the separate containers are really useful too.
I use my coffee grounder to ground cardamom pods all the time. It's actually not a problem if my coffee smells like cardamom because I grind the cardamom to make Arabic coffee which is a mix of ground coffee and cardamom.
I could not imagine grinding spices like cinnamon or cumin though. I remember once I bought freshly ground cumin and put it in the cabinet next to a package of coffee and my coffee had absorbed the aroma of the cumin despite being in a separate package.
So even though a coffee grounder is a really good spice grinder too, it's not the best idea to ground any spice with it.
Was anyone else a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan growing up? One of the later books, The Long Winter, was about a year they almost froze and starved because they were snowed in by so many blizzards.
Well, they ran out of flour and coal. Laura and Pa worked out how to braid hay into sort of sticks that could burn and not just flame out, but flour was a different problem.
Pa discovered that the Wilder brothers had wheat, and he kind of forced them to sell it to him. Then when he got it home, he realized the difference between "wheat" and "flour"! There was no way to mill it.
Then Ma thought of putting the wheat through the coffee grinder. It made very coarse flour that led to brown, nutty bread that was probably more nutritious, anyway! Now *that's* a cool use for a coffee grinder.
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